November 30, 2022
Dear Northshore Families:
We hope that you and your family were able to relax and enjoy the holiday break. In Northshore we have a lot to be thankful for during this season of gratitude and reflection. After multiple years of disruption, it has been wonderful to return to more normal school operations.
While we have a lot to celebrate, one area of growing concern is our students’ ability to appropriately and safely resolve conflict. In the past few weeks, across the nation and in our region, we have witnessed an increase in threats of gun violence or acts of violence associated with schools. This is very concerning, and we are doing everything we can to support our students and school communities.
While the District has distributed information about the serious nature of these incidents, and we require families to sign the Weapons Letter Acknowledgement Form (found under Gun Safety on the district website), this information does not seem to be reaching all of our students. So, we need to try a different approach. After consulting with school leaders, counselors, educators, and our labor partners, we are recommending a consistent message is delivered by trusted adults at each school. This is in addition to continuing to encourage families to talk with their students at home. This school-based messaging will begin on Friday, December 2.
How each school shares the message may look different, in response to the unique needs of individual school communities. The student message may be shared in a newsletter, school assembly, classrooms, advisory, or via video. Some schools may choose to phase communication, so timing will also be different across schools.
While the communication approach will be different, our schools’ goal is the same - to be explicit about the District’s expectations regarding threats of violence and or gun violence, the serious nature of these incidents, consequences, and how to report a concern. Our hope is that by addressing these topics directly with students, we will reduce the number of incidents our school communities are experiencing.
Schools have been provided with common messaging to share with 4th-12th grade students through a variety of channels. Staff will not share the message with preschool through 3rd grade students. You may review the common messaging by grade level below:
What can you do at home to help?
- Please continue to have conversations with your children about these types of comments or threats. If a student is talking or posting about harming either a person or the school, using weapons or any other violent threats, it can lead to serious consequences. We must take all threats seriously and the District response will involve law enforcement. Just like at airports, schools must be places where weapons are not joked about, discussed, or brought.
- If you or your student hears or sees something concerning, say something. We must all remain vigilant in the protection of our school communities. Northshore schools are overwhelmingly very safe places. One of the reasons is because students are often the eyes and ears of the school community and can help identify a potential issue before it happens. If at any time you or your student believe you have knowledge of a situation where danger is imminent, dial 911 immediately. Please continue to encourage your student to share any concerns with a trusted staff member. If they aren’t comfortable sharing directly with staff, concerns can always be anonymously submitted using our Safe Schools Alert System:
- Please review the District’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook and as appropriate share key information with your student.
- Help reduce student access to firearms. We all play a role in keeping our children safe by storing firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. Visit King County Lock It Up for more information on safe storage. It’s important to ask about the presence of unsecured guns in any home your child visits. Make it part of your general safety conversation along with questions about pets, video games, adult supervision, etc. Visit Be SMART for Kids for more tips on how to approach this conversation.
For more information about Northshore’s proactive approach to school safety, please read Interim Superintendent Michael Tolley’s November 9 message.
We also know that conversations about school violence will result in a variety of emotions for students and families. Here are some resources you may find helpful:
- Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event
- Multilingual Trauma Resources
- Northshore School District Mental Health Providers
Thank you for your continued support and partnership in these efforts. Together, we can provide all of our students the safe and supportive learning environment they need and deserve.
Student ServicesNorthshore School District